Eye on Owls

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barn owlOwls can play a crucial role in rodent control on organic farms. Instead of traps or poison, owls are natural predators that can help control populations of rodents like meadow voles that can girdle and kill the fruit trees. Many owl species reside in forested habitat, but the North American Barn Owl is attracted to the open grasslands present in both Lancaster County, PA and Stanislaus County, CA.  The FruitGuys worked with farmers in both of these regions in March to provide attractive nesting sites for these owls to support owl conservation efforts and increase organic methods of pest control.

On March 18, 2010, The FruitGuys installed an owl box at  Kauffman's Fruit Farm in Bird-in-Hand, PA. This completed our first East Coast Farm Steward project.

owl box

The Farm Steward program helps farms solve pest problems via sustainable methods. A team, including  the organic orchard's manager,  Ken Kauffman, farm maintenance team  Ken and Steve Weaver,  and East and West coast FruitGuys Bridget, Karla, Jessica, and Sean installed the owl box, pictured here, which should encourage nesting, and consequently, decrease the presence of meadow voles.  Daniel Mummert,  the  Southeast Wildlife Diversity Biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, also joined the group and shared some fascinating information about these incredible owls and the crucial role they can play in pest control at the Kauffman's farm. We also set up an "owl cam"  to monitor the hunting skills of a pair of barn owls that currently reside in a nearby barn.  Here are some  images of the owls we have posted on facebook.  Here is a video of us setting up the owl box on Kauffman's Fruit Farm.

On the west coast, four owl boxes were installed on March 21, 2010, to attract Barn Owls at E & M Farm in Vernalis, CA. A crew including farmers Ed and Melissa Magee, their two children, two FruitGuys customers, and FruitGuys' Karla and Desiree hoisted four  owl  boxes high thanks to Ed's engineering skills and the crew's strength and enthusiasm.

As of June 2011, there were four owl boxes installed on E & M farm, all inhabited by barn owls.

For more information on owls as natural predators, check out the Hungry Owl Project and for an example of an owl cam in action, check out  Molly,  an owl  in San Marcos, CA,  who is already an online star.

Comments (4)

  • anon

    Great job! Can't wait for the owls to take residence.

    Mar 30, 2010
  • anon

    SO cool! love this project! I hope the owls like their new home!

    Mar 31, 2010
  • anon

    Hi Pia and Chris,
    We are doing the same thing on our farm in Yolo County. We installed 3 owl boxes about 3 years ago and have had nesters every year. It's so fun to go out at night with a flashlight and check out the babies. We have also installed 25-30 blue bird boxes in our olive orchard. We have totally increased the population of blue birds in our area. Many of our neighbors in the Capay Valley have installed the same boxes and also get nesters. Our boxes, both owl and blue bird, are made to regulation and are super easy to clean. They are really well made (the best we have seen) and our 'builder' tries to use all local recycled wood.

    Mar 31, 2010
  • anon
    Karla Milosevich

    Hello, great news! Farmer Ed Magee says that barn owls have inhabited the owl boxes at E & M farm!

    Karla
    The FruitGuys

    May 26, 2011

 

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